Apprentice unjustly dismissed as employer relys upon 90 day trial

Published 14 February 2024

Construction company ordered to pay former employee $10k

We're diving into a story about an apprentice builder who found themself caught in the whirlwind of an unjust dismissal by their employer.

A young building apprentice faced the stark reality of losing their job over what seemed like a misunderstanding blown out of proportion. The employee, amid a heated exchange with their foreman, made a statement that, in context, was more figurative than literal -- but the consequences led to a dismissal.

The saga unfolds with the employee raising the matter to the Employment Relations Authority (ERA), seeking justice for what they believed was an unjust dismissal.

And guess what? The ERA agreed.

Let's break down their decision:

ERA's Decision

  • The employee was unjustifiably dismissed by their employer.
  • The ERA ruled that the employer's attempt to rely on the 90-day trial provision was invalid due to the lack of mutual agreement at the commencement of the employee's employment.
  • The employee's dismissal occurred before any investigation or fair process was initiated by the employer.
  • The ERA noted that the altercation between the employee and their foreman was provoked, and the employer failed to consider alternatives to dismissal.
  • The construction company was ordered to pay the employee $8,000 in compensation without deductions and $1,952.32 in lost wages.
  • The investigation conducted by the employer was flawed, with incomplete information provided to the employee and biased findings in favour of the foreman's version of events.

Moving forward, businesses must prioritise fairness and transparency in their employment practices. What practical steps can employers take to prevent unjust dismissals and uphold employee rights? How can managers and HR professionals create cultures of trust and accountability?

It's crucial to acknowledge when things go awry. This case is a great example of the importance of fair processes, clear communication, and upholding the rights of employees.

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